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Reviews of National Policies for Education: Tertiary Education in Portugal 2007

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Portugal’s tertiary education sector has expanded significantly over the last 20 years, but participation and overall educational attainment levels remain below European standards and enrolment rates have begun to decline. The OECD review recommends that Portugal’s national government should focus on strategic direction and leave higher education institutions wider latitude for accomplishing public priorities consistent with their mission. Among its proposals for reform, the review calls for the creation of a National Council on Higher Education to oversee Portugal’s higher education strategy. The review also calls for major changes in the governance and management of higher education institutions to bring them into line with national goals, encourage their responsiveness and efficiency, and improve their quality.  Improving research and innovation is a key strategic objective of the Portuguese government, and the OECD review suggests a number of qualitative changes in Portugal’s tertiary education system to enhance performance in this area.

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Executive Summary

The Portuguese higher education system faces a number of important issues that the government is determined to tackle. These include financing of institutions and students, system steering, institutional autonomy, research and development, governance of the individual institutions, and participation of external stakeholders in governance and the binary system. These matters need to be addressed and resolved, for without doing so any nation – and Portugal is no exception – will be ill-prepared to keep pace in the knowledgebased economy.

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